Wolf Pack Watch: Hartford braces for AHL and NHL Trade Deadlines
Twenty-seven games remain on the docket for Hartford’s 2019-2020 campaign, and as we approach the middle of February, the Wolf Pack continue to be at the top of the standings. This time of year is always interesting, with the NHL and AHL trade deadlines coming up in just a few weeks. Another intriguing thing to look at is the possible paper transactions the Rangers make for certain players to be eligible for the 2020 Calder Cup Playoffs by the AHL roster deadline on March 2nd.
Road Struggles Continue
Entering this week, the Wolf Pack have lost seven straight on the road. In that span, Hartford has collected three of 14 points. Despite being impressive at home, the road tells a different story of the team as they’ve been unable to perform away from the XL Center. Hartford has 12 games remaining on the road before the playoffs, and they must find a way to win on the road. Otherwise, they will have trouble in the post-season.
On the plus side, Hartford finally showed some fight on the road this past Saturday in the house of horrors known as the Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Wolf Pack earned their first point in franchise history in Charlotte on their 14th visit, with Hartford responding well after Friday’s blowout loss. The group will have to find a way to snap their losing streak on the road.
Wolf Pack Establish New Franchise Record
Last Wednesday, the Wolf Pack earned its 12th consecutive home win after tying the previous franchise record of 11. The current streak can be extended this week as Hartford is home on Wednesday and Friday. Hartford continues to earn points at home as the club is 20-1-0-2 at the XL Center. Hartford also earned their 500th home win in franchise history. The boys are fun to watch this season.
As expected, the Rangers may move a few players as the NHL Trade Deadline approaches. Some of the moves could benefit Hartford if the deal involves an incoming prospect. One of the deficiencies the Wolf Pack have is the inconsistency in scoring. They may score frequently at home, but they are unable to deliver on the road. Adding a boost of firepower would enhance the roster.
Another thing to keep an eye on is the AHL paper transactions deadline on March 2nd, which is the roster deadline for AHL playoff eligibility. The Rangers could send Igor Shesterkin, Kaapo Kakko, Adam Fox, and/or a few others if they choose to do so for a Calder Cup playoff run. However, the worry I have is if the Rangers send many players to Hartford that are considered prospects, they could hinder the current chemistry.
Hartford’s roster could get quite interesting as the Wolf Pack may sign a few players from college through tryouts as well. We may also see Tyler Wall in Hartford if the Rangers elect to keep him in the system before he becomes a free agent this summer.
The Rangers have sent scouts to see the Flyers prospect in Allentown this past weekend on Friday and Sunday.
- Joey Keane is finding his touch again after a brief offensive slump. Keane now has points in three of the last five outings (2G, 3A). The defenseman ranks 13th among AHL rookies in points (28) and fourth among rookie AHL defensemen.
- Cristoval “Boo” Nieves has missed the last five games due to the flu. Before missing the last two weeks, Nieves had points in four of his previous five games (5A).
- Ty Ronning played his first game back with Hartford last Saturday. The forward had two shots on goal and was on for a goal against. He’s been given another opportunity after playing in 28 games with the Maine Mariners. Ronning has 11 goals and 24 assists this season in the ECHL.
- Patrick Newell has points in two of the last three games (3G, A).
- After missing two games, Yegor Rykov earned himself a goal last Saturday in Charlotte.
- Libor Hajek has struggled since joining Hartford on January 15th. The prospect has had a few defensive breakdowns and bad penalties.
- Rangers prospects in the ECHL
- Sean Day has played in 31 games with Maine and recorded 14 points (5G, 9A). The prospect continues to develop in the ECHL and has not earned a call up to Hartford since being sent back to Maine in December.
- Brandon Crawley played in 38 games with Maine. The gritty defenseman has two goals and ten assists. His contract is up after this summer.
Entering the week, Hartford is 27-12-5-5 for 64 points in the Atlantic Division. That ranks the club second in the division, third in the Eastern Conference, and fourth in the league. The Hershey Bears jumped ahead of Hartford with wins on Saturday and Sunday. The Wolf Pack could find themselves back on top of the division depending on how the week shakes out between them and Hershey.
The Vegas Golden Knights were interested in buying an AHL franchise with the intent of moving their prospects closer to Vegas. Currently, the Golden Knights have set up shop in Chicago, affiliating with the Wolves. Late last week was a shock to the AHL community as the Golden Knights purchased the San Antonio Rampage and will be moving the franchise to Las Vegas to play at the Orleans Arena. In the long term plan, the AHL will be coming to Henderson, Nevada.
This will become interesting as the St. Louis Blues will need to find a new home for their prospects once again. The Chicago Wolves are refusing to become the affiliate of the Blues due to past issues that were considered severe according to their management. Both teams are now looking for new affiliates at the AHL and NHL levels, respectively.
- Phil Di Giuseppe called up to New York on February 2nd.
- Ty Ronning assigned to Hartford on February 3rd.
- Lewis Zerter-Gossage and Jeff Taylor assigned to Maine on February 10th.
- Jake Elmer assigned to Hartford on February 9th.
Wednesday, February 12th vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at 7pm, XL Center
- This is the 2nd of 6 meetings on the season with the Penguins. Hartford was shutout 3-0 in the first meeting on the season on January 11th in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
- Entering the week, the Penguins rank 5th in the Atlantic Division. The club is 11-8-2-2 on the road.
- Forward Andrew Agozzino leads the Penguins in points (33). Agozzino collected 14 goals and 19 assists in 37 games.
- Listen – Mixr. Watch – AHLTV.
Friday, February 14th vs Laval Rocket at 7:15pm, XL Center
- This is the fourth and final meeting in the season series with the Rocket. Hartford is 1-1-0-1 against Laval thus far.
- Entering the week, Laval is 23-20-5-2 for 53 points in the North Division. That ranks them fifth in their division. Laval is on a 0-1-1 run and has won three of their last 30 games.
- Montreal prospect Jake Evans leads the Rocket in points (34). The forward has 12 goals and 22 assists in 48 games.
- Listen – Mixr. Watch – AHLTV.
Saturday, February 15th vs Lehigh Valley Phamtoms at 7:05pm, PPL Center
- This is the fourth of six meetings in the season series with the Phantoms. Hartford is 2-1-1 thus far.
- Entering the week, the Phantoms rank seventh in the Atlantic Division. The club is 15-6-1-2 at home. Hartford is 7-11-5-3 on the road.
- Veteran Greg Carey leads the Phantoms in points (24). The forward has 13 goals and 11 assists in 45 games.
- Listen – Lehigh Valley Phantoms Radio Network. Watch – AHLTV.